“Mr. Band, who declined to comment, is hardly alone in tallying those considered to have crossed the former candidate or the former president in recent months by supporting Mr. Obama. As the Obama bandwagon has swelled, so have the lists of people Clinton loyalists regard as some variation of ‘ingrate,’ ‘traitor’ or ‘enemy,’ according to the associates and campaign officials, who would speak only on condition of anonymity.” They’re making a list, and checking it twice… Via Blackberry, Clinton flunkies draw up a post-primary enemies list. It ain’t politics without grudges, I guess.
Well, it’s sometimes seemed to have more endings than Return of the King. But, tonight, it looks like the primary season is finally, really, truly at an end, with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois our duly chosen Democratic nominee. In the days and weeks ahead, it’ll behoove all of us, however hard, to let the primary bygones be bygones and to help reunite the party against our real foe, John McCain and the GOP. But, before we let the healing begin, I do have one more word to say about the Clintons, who above all else this campaign season has proven the truth of the old adage: “Choose your enemies wisely, for you will become them.“
Now, I’m not going to recite the full litany of grievances against the Clintons’ behavior of late one more time. I’d say that ground is already pretty well-covered in the election archives. But I will say this: It has become increasingly fashionable in the press and elsewhere to esteem Sen. Clinton — regardless of her other political transgressions — as gutsy, tenacious, a fighter. Say what you will about her methods, this line of thinking goes, she goes there. She does what needs to be done. In fact, argues otherwise discerning political observers such as friend and colleague David Greenberg, she is exactly the kind of fighter the Left has said they’ve been looking for. (Of course, she and her husband have been AWOL when it counted over the past seven years, but that’s neither here nor there in this view.)
Well, simply put, this is all hooey. Sen. Clinton’s behavior over the past six months and change has been exactly the wrong lesson for Democrats to draw from the politics of the last decade. I’ve said it here several times before, but, in a nutshell, here’s why:
You don’t wear the ring. You destroy the ring.
Or, in other words, the key to beating the Republicans is not by acting Republican. It’s by rising above their tendentious garbage and working to restore reason and sanity to our politics. At the very least, a Democratic nominee for president shouldn’t validate the base tactics of the GOP by wallowing in their wretchedness. For what shall it profit a woman, if she shall gain the whole world, and lose her own soul?
Nevertheless, seemingly blinded by ambition, Sen. Clinton very quickly chose the wrong path. (In the place of a Dumb Lord, we would have a Queen…) She embraced the Rove playbook and dabbled in Al Qaeda hysteria. She validated John McCain and threatened to obliterate Iran. She called her opponent elitist and derided the “elite opinion” of the reality-based community. She played nice with Limbaugh, Scaife, and FOX. She flirted dangerously with the race card and lauded hard-working whites. She, for all intent and purposes, became the Republican candidate in the Democratic primary. She, and her husband, became part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
To repeat something I said after Wisconsin in February, the night when Sen. Obama’s primary victory basically became mathematically inexorable: “If you’ll forgive the lapse into LotR metaphors, the treason of Saruman, once the noblest and wisest of our order, is almost subdued. The Battle for Middle-Earth is only beginning.” So, as we move forward after tonight, I’ll try as much as anyone to tone down the internecine fighting around here, and start focusing fire on our true opponents over on the Right. (That is provided, of course, that Sen. Clinton chooses to diminish, go into the West, and remain a Democrat.)
But let’s also draw the appropriate lesson from the Clinton candidacy of 2008. The Clinton era is over, and this general election is now a chance for we as Dems “to show our quality.” We are not Dubya-Rove Republicans, and adopting their scorched-earth idiocies in a “tenacious” attempt to get elected is most assuredly the road to political, civic, and spiritual ruin.
“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it.” A Freudian slip, or just the Mother of all Gaffes? Classy to the end, Sen. Clinton, perhaps inadvertently, blurts out her Vulture Strategy. Now, that should go over like gangbusters. Ugh, go away already.
Update: “Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, reacting to Mrs. Clinton’s comment through a spokeswoman, said only, ‘This is beyond the pale.’“
Update 2: In a special comment tonight, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann blew a gasket over Clinton’s remarks, and offered a concise and damning litany of the ridiculousness Sen. Clinton has subjected us to over these past few months. To be honest, I think Olbermann is pretty far over the top here. That being said, the riff beginning at 7:13 is very worthwhile.
You know, just when I thought Sen. Clinton realized she had been decisively beaten, and thus that it was time to beg off and let the healing begin, we get garbage like this: With West Virginia and Kentucky on the docket (and no more sizable African-American populations left on the calendar), Clinton toys dangerously with the race card yet again. “‘I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,’ she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article ‘that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.’” Uh, riiiight. Because, as we all know, black Americans aren’t hard-working at all, but rather “shiftless” and “indolent.” “There’s a pattern emerging here.” That there is, Sen. Clinton, and your campaign seems to be on the wrong side of it.
I get it — She was probably trying to make the same old point about her support among the white working class, and for whatever reason it came out disastrously wrong and inadvertently (I hope) conflated white and hard-working. But, even allowing for an unfortunate gaffe, this riff further illustrates the Clinton campaign’s troubling penchant for denigrating African-American votes as less important than those of white folk. Simply put, they’re not — a vote is a vote is a vote, and Obama has more of them, eggheads, African-Americans, you name it. Nor do I agree with the dubious contention that white working-class voters who have backed Clinton in the primary will go for McCain in the general en masse. As I said here, when it comes to primaries and generals, we’re talking apples and oranges. Past performance is no indicator of future success, or failure.
“I’m not going to put my lot in with economists.” As TPM noted, we seem to have finally reached the point where there are “no more sharks left to jump.“ For alas, Sen. Clinton’s final, fraying tether to the reality-based community (and my general election vote, not that she’ll be getting that far anyway) gave up its last this weekend, as she — in defiance of her usual m.o. and very much in the manner of Dubya and the GOP — deemed universal opposition to her gas tax pander to be merely a figment of “elite opinion“. (She’s also doubled down on her anti-Obama gas tax ads.) As Robert Reich noted: “In case you’ve missed it, we now have a president who doesn’t care what most economists think. George W. Bush doesn’t even care what scientists think. He rejects all experts who disagree with his politics. This has led to some extraordinarily stupid policies.” (Clinton partisan Paul Krugman, also a member of the elite-economist cabal, has yet to weigh in on his being cast down as an enemy of the people.)
As it turns out, one of the salt-of-the earth proles at the event (self-identified as an Obama voter making less than $25,000 a year) called Clinton out to her face for this blatant idiocy: “‘I do feel pandered to when you talk about suspending the gas tax,’ the woman said, adding: ‘Call me crazy but I actually listen to economists because I think they know what they’ve studied.’” Clearly, this woman will be requiring significant reeducation. “‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’ ‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’” (Give Clinton credit: Her campaign has been a travesty, but it’s been great fodder for Orwell references around here.)
In any case, regarding the big picture: Unfortunately for earlier hopes that we’d be done May 6, it’s looking like tomorrow will almost assuredly bring a split, with NC for Obama and IN for Clinton. (That is, unless Zogby has finally broke out of its slump this cycle.) Meaning, of course, that Clinton will be even more mathematically eliminated. And yet, in all likelihood, we’ll slog on to June 3. Yay. (With that in mind, each side picked up another super today: Kalyn Free of OK for Obama and Theresa Morelli of Dems Abroad for Clinton. But as Morelli only counts for 1/2 a vote, that’s another 1/2-vote pick up for Obama.)
Update: make that two and a half: Obama picks up two more MD supers, Michael Cryor and Lauren Dugas-Glover. And it sounds like some of Clinton’s CA supers are reconsidering their options.
Update 2: Apparently, economists still mattered in 1992.
“I don’t think it’s brilliant economics; unfortunately, it may be good politics. The smart people say ‘It’s stupid,’ and the people who aren’t as schooled say ‘At least it will do something for me,’…I don’t know that anyone connects the dots: that there have been a series of politically expedient decisions…that have added up to an economic picture that is not at all rosy and in fact fairly disastrous.” In an A-1 story this morning, the WP joins the recent general calumny against the Clinton-McCain gas tax cut (which Clinton is now campaigning heavily on in IN and NC — Obama is now pushing back on TV.) “‘You are just going to push up the price of gas by almost the size of the tax cut,’ said Eric Toder, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington.” Indeed, it’s apparently such a dumb idea that even diehard Clinton cheerleader Paul Krugman is forced to concede thus. Of course, the reality of the situation hasn’t stopped Bill Clinton from entering full-Pander Bear mode on the issue.
“In an interview yesterday, Hillary — whose connection to President Clinton’s 2001 sentence commutations for two members of the Weather Underground has become an issue since she tried to raise questions about Obama’s acquaintance with another ex-Weatherman — told ‘Inside Edition’ that she ‘didn’t know anything about’ the 2001 clemency case…If it’s true, it means that she got the worst briefings in the world when she was running for Senate in 2000 and the clemency issue was hot in Rockland County, and it means that Chuck Schumer didn’t even bother to mention the issue to his fellow NY senator-elect/ First Lady after promising the widows of two dead cops to fight against one of the clemencies.” Following her recent attempt to make hay from the Weathermen, Sen. Clinton gets caught in another obvious lie. Oops.
Meanwhile, following on the two he picked up yesterday, Sen. Obama scores another superdelegate in Oregon rep David Wu. “‘We need new policies both at home and abroad,’ Wu said in a statement. ‘Like Americans, the international community wants to see real change in America and I believe that Senator Obama embodies that change.’” As you probably know, Sen. Clinton needs the superdelegates to break 2-1 her way from now herein for the comeback math to make any sense at all. So, since Pennsylvania (1 for Clinton, 3 for Obama), she’s already 5 down on where she needs to be.
First we had Senator Clinton adopting various Hail Mary Rovianisms, which have been well recorded here, including but not nearly limited to an ad featuring Osama Bin Laden just this past week. Then Bill went on the Rush Limbaugh show. Then Sen. Clinton played nice with Richard Mellon Scaife, architect of the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” for his endorsement. And now we have this:
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.“
‘Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood, when blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud.” Well, actually, it was only six weeks ago, just after Mississippi. (It only seems like a lifetime.) Still, I posted then, following Al Giordano at Rural Votes, to beware Pennsylvania tunnel vision, as it’s a state tailor-made for Clinton’s demographic strengths. Six long, miserable weeks later, after Jeremiah Wright and The Speech and Tuzla snipers and the Bitter pill, we’ve finally made it to PA Day, and what I wrote then still holds true. Given the polls and the probable Limbaugh shenanigans in Pennsyltucky, Clinton will almost assuredly win the Keystone State by double digits tonight, and yet still won’t amass enough delegates to make a bit of difference in the final decision. And, because the media still won’t call the race (and, indeed, resent even the slightest implication that they’re lazy and f**king pathetic at their line of work), we will grimly slog on to May 6th, watching enviously as McCain and the GOP dance their happy jig of Dem self-immolation. (Don’t get me wrong: I still think Obama will trounce McCain thoroughly in November. But it’s going to be much harder than it ever needed to be.)
Was that magical night in Iowa really less than four months ago? It seems since then that we Obama-leaning political junkies are being punished by the Clinton campaign for the sin of putting too much faith in the process, and have been consigned to a neverending Purgatory of endless lowballs and trifling media idiocies. In a different world, I might have been flabbergasted by Clinton shoehorning Pearl Harbor and Bin Laden into a political ad against a fellow Democrat. But, at this late date, did anyone really expect anything less? Give it a few more weeks and the Clinton campaign will likely be regaling us with D.W. Griffith and guys in blackface. And it will still be over. Update: By way of Dangerous Meta, Sen. Clinton also attempted to recertify her cajones this morning by threatening to “obliterate” Iran. Dubya much, Senator?
At any rate, if you are of the Pennsylvanian persuasion, please consider voting for Barack Obama today. Let’s get focused on our real opponent, already.
“Clinton is viewed as ‘honest and trustworthy’ by just 39 percent of Americans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, compared with 52 percent in May 2006. Nearly six in 10 said in the new poll that she is not honest and trustworthy.” Who’s bitter now? A new poll finds that a solid majority of voters now believes Sen. Clinton is dishonest. “And now, compared with Obama, Clinton has a deep trust deficit among Democrats, trailing him by 23 points as the more honest, an area on which she once led both Obama and John Edwards.” In other words, all the shenanigans of the past few months seem to have made her unelectable. Oops.
“‘I think it would be nice to have this all done by July 1,’ Dean said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program. ‘If we can do it sooner than that, that’s all the better.’” Howard Dean sets a date of July 1 at the latest for the primary election to end, meaning there’ll thankfully be no convention floor fight. I’m still thinking May 6 would be more preferable.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton drops the electoral vote standard (for now) and picks an even more unwieldy statistic by which to judge the candidates: “”Right now, among all the primary states, believe it or not, Hillary’s only 16 votes behind in pledged delegates,’ said the former president, ‘and she’s gonna wind up with the lead in the popular vote in the primary states. She’s gonna wind up with the lead in the delegates [from primary states].‘” (The 18 caucus states, you may remember, don’t matter.) Clinton also went on to do more stumping for John McCain, calling him a “moderate” who “has given about all you can give for this country without dyin’ for it.“
Hey all. Well, I’m sure many of you are as sick of reading about this lingering primary season as I’m getting to be about writing on it. At this point, my feelings about the Clinton campaign and the dwindling band of dead-enders lingering around her failed candidacy have gone from disbelief to disgust to a sort of exhausted aversion: It’s unsightly and hard to watch, and not only because so many Clinton supporters online have been leaving the reality-based community in droves. Like a fatally wounded snake, the campaign is still writhing, hissing, and lashing out by reflex, seemingly unaware that its time came and went weeks ago.
But, the news is the news, and I did promise to keep following it. So, if you, like me, took a break over the Easter weekend, here is the most recent litany of outrages. (Of course, at this late date, you’ll probably only find these outrageous if you haven’t been following along for the past few months…)
Obama supporter Gen. Tony McPeak has been taking some flak for likening this questioning of Obama’s patriotism to the antics of Senator Joe McCarthy, but, let’s be honest, what else would you call it? It’s definitely in the same ballpark. Since time immemorial, arguing against one’s opponent’s patriotism has been the last refuge of a scoundrel, and as sure a sign as any that a political campaign is wheezing its last. And Clinton, of course, knows this firsthand, since he was on the receiving end of a similar smear in 1992. In short, the president has shamed himself and his legacy yet again.
I’m not at all surprised Carville is “Stickin’” with the Clinton campaign well past its expiration date — It’s his nature, and you can’t teach an old Clinton yellow-dog new tricks. But he’s dead wrong on this one, and given that he more than anyone else should be able to see the writing on the wall, politically speaking, he really should be working to bring the party back together, not continuing to poison the well with badly thought-out religious metaphors. (And if saying thus make me a “Judas” in his eyes, well, so be it…although I’d prefer to think of myself as a Jack Burden.)
Update: “I think the statement had the desired effect. It was what I said.” Carville talks Judas on CNN, and, as I suspected, he seemed to think it just all part of the game: “‘I doubt if Governor Richardson and I will be terribly close in the future,’ he said, but ‘I’ve had my say…I got one in the wheelhouse and I tagged him.’” What Carville seems to be ignoring here is that, tag or not, the game is already over, and Obama is the one going to the Series. So it’s a little late to be throwing the chin music.
And, while I’m embedding video, these merry pranksters made a similar point today, albeit with more snark and less dudgeon. Vinegar or honey, they’re all speaking the truth.
“I think that the Clinton administration (sic) has fairly ruled that out by proclaiming that Senator McCain would be a better Commander in Chief than Obama. I think that either way is impossible.’” Sinbad aside, you really don’t want to tick off Speaker Pelosi. Calling a joint Obama-Clinton ticket “impossible” in an interview with New England Cable News today, Speaker Pelosi makes her displeasure obvious with the Clinton campaign for hyping McCain over the Senator from Illinois. “I wanted to be sure I didn’t leave any ambiguity.” Play with matches, Sen. Clinton, you were due to get burned. Update: Lest anyone missed the import, Pelosi says it again: “I do think we will have a dream team, it just won’t be those two names…Take it from me, that won’t be the ticket.”
So, if you’re of the mind that GitM has degraded in quality and become obsessively single-minded since the election season began in earnest, and that I should really just head out to the movies and chill, I apologize. There’s a link about the The Dark Knight just above, and I’ll try to keep the coverage somewhat broader in the weeks ahead. Alas, although the electoral math would seem to make it clear that the race is over — former Clinton flunky Dick Morris is the latest to call it — it would also seem the Clinton campaign is not getting the message, and they’re more than willing to commit the party version of fratricide out of pique. Case in point, this new interview with Newsweek, in which Hillary Clinton actually floats (again) the nuclear option: stealing Obama’s pledged delegates. (“Even elected and caucus delegates are not required to stay with whomever they are pledged to.“) Uh, what? (And caucus delegates are elected delegates, but nice try.)
So, I’ll be the first to admit that the election season has become more than a little tiring and draining at this point, and the idea of at least seven more weeks of this until Pennsylvania does not bring a smile to my face. But, it’s apparently time to take Fight Club up a notch. When Hillary Clinton and her campaign lie incessantly about her experience, cozy up with hatemongers for cash, try to change the election rules in mid-stream, spew forth readily disprovable idiocies in what seems at this point to be an attempt to hide some ill-gotten gains, and begin pushing John McCain over the presumptive Democratic nominee, she’s going to get called on it. When a guy like Joe Conason, who made a career out of arguing (correctly) that there was really nothing much to Whitewater, then turns around and tries to use the exact same pattern of half-assed insinuation to smear Obama with Tony Rezko (a media tic his Salon colleague Glenn Greenwald had savagely picked apart just two days before), he’s going to get called on it.
And this talk — by the candidate herself! — of stealing pledged delegates is the last straw. In short, these people need to go. Since the Clintons are not going gracefully, since they seem hell-bent on refusing to respect the rules in this contest, and since, in the naked pursuit of power, they have effectively decided to obliterate their legacy in the Democratic Party and salt the earth around its smoldering remains, there’s nothing else to be done. It’s time to cry havoc, and let slip the blogs of war.
“‘I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold. I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy.’…Calling McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee a good friend and a ‘distinguished man with a great history of service to our country,’ Clinton said, ‘Both of us will be on that stage having crossed that threshold.’” Say what? Still happily in denial about her recent loss of the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton spouts more GOP talking points on national security in an attempt to wound Obama after the fact. (In case you missed it, she did the same sort of thing the other day.) Now, I remain unclear as to what national security qualifications McCain and especially Clinton assume they enjoy. (Lest we forget, Clinton didn’t even have a national security clearance during her tenure as First Lady.) That being said, this sordid wallowing in (and thus legitimizing of) right-wing agitprop is exactly why the party can’t afford to let Hillary Clinton sustain the delusion she will be our nominee. It is time for her to go.
Sigh. Since the spin levels today coming out of the Clinton camp are reaching Iraq war proportions, let’s take a moment to review. As I said on Monday and several times before, Sen. Clinton had a very tough task before her last night. Unfortunately for her candidacy, she failed to accomplish it. The Clinton campaign did not “turn a corner” last night, unless you mean they’ve now rounded the corner to oblivion. Let’s assess Sen. Clinton’s post-March 4th position by her own standard, before we collectively sign on to the notion that the Clinton “surge” is suddenly working: (Via David Plouffe on Monday.)
“This election will come down to delegates…After March 4th, over 3000 delegates will be committed, and we project that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be virtually tied with 611 delegates still to be chosen in Pennsylvania and other remaining states…As history shows, the Democratic nomination goes to the candidate who wins the most delegates – not the candidate who wins the most states.” — Mark Penn, February 13, 2008. (Well, he’s right about the delegates. But it’s March 5th, and they’re not tied. And Sen. Obama has won the most delegates and the most states.)
“We think that at the end of the day on March 4 we will be within 25 delegates.” — Clinton aide Guy Cecil, February 13, 2008. (They’re not. They’re down at least four times that.)
“I Think We Will Be Ahead In The Delegate Race After Texas And Ohio.” — Howard Wolfson, February 11, 2008. (They’re not. They’re down big.)
None of these happened. While the numbers are still being crunched, it looks like Sen. Clinton picked up between 4 and 10 pledged delegates last night (depending on how the Texas caucus ultimately comes out.) She was down approximately 150 pledged delegates, and there are not enough contests left for her to feasibly make up that difference. Ohio and Texas were her last, best hope to turn things around, and — in spite of all the sorry Republicanisms of the past week — she failed to do so. As such, the race is now effectively over. Finished. Kaput. In the fridge. Our nominee is Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
True, some news outlets are tipping their hat to the mathematical reality today: Fournier at AP, Dickerson at Slate, the Wash Post and the New York Times. But, since all too many (ostensibly Clinton-hating) media outlets seem to be playing the idiot and rolling with her “comeback” spin today, I’ll try to explain it using a sports metaphor. Obama is up 34-7 in the fourth quarter. Clinton just scored a touchdown. The score is now 34-14, but now there’s only 2 minutes left and Obama has the ball. For all intent and purposes, he can just take a knee and run out the clock. (Not that I suggest he do so. Since the other team is playing dirty, we might as well run up the score.) Or, since we’ve been talking knockout punches of late, Obama failed to land one last night, true. But he’s way up on points and will clearly win the decision. Clinton needed to score her own knockout last night. Unfortunately, for her, she didn’t connect.
Now, some might argue, “What’s the rush?” Why not just let the Clinton campaign continue to send dispatches from their make-believe world until the convention in September? Well, that might’ve been acceptable if Sen. Clinton had chosen to go the amiable, Huckabee route. But, she hasn’t. Rather, she’s been trying to make Obama bleed, and has now — as if her credibility wasn’t already at rock-bottom — donned the fearmongering and national security wardrobe of the Bush-Cheney GOP. In effect, she is now basically acting as a McCain surrogate. Since we can only expect her to continue this behavior for as long as we indulge her delusional fantasy that she can be the nominee, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is time for the Democratic party to collectively put its foot down.
So, to sum up, the race is over. And, since Sen. Clinton will not withdraw gracefully, or do anything that might put the good of the party before her own desperate ambitions, it is now up to the supers to force her out. Every day they wait is another day our chances in the general election are threatened, merely for the sake of assuaging the vanity of an also-ran who is “drawing dead” and has conducted a truly terrible campaign.
Whatsmore, despite her grasping this morning, Sen. Clinton will not be on either end of the Democratic ticket this year. In fact, now that she’s in the process of destroying any likelihood of her being Senate Majority Leader, the closest she’ll get to the White House anytime soon is if President Obama is charitable enough to let her on a Health Care Task Force of some kind. (Although, a word of warning, Mr. President-to-be: She ran the last attempt at health care reform right into the ground.)
“The control of the sign-in sheets and the announcement of the delegates allotted to each candidate are the critical functions of the Chair and Secretary. This is why it is so important that Hillary supporters hold these positions.” In their training materials for Texas caucus participants, the Clinton campaign requests that supporters game the system. Classy, as always. And, since Camp Clinton can’t seem to stop acting like Republicans at the moment, why not some of the real thing? Rush Limbaugh encourages his listeners to vote Clinton in Texas and Ohio (as do other GOPers), to keep the Dem party divided against itself for as long as possible.
Oof. I really hope this ends on Tuesday night. Mathematically, that would seem a certainty, given the huge margins Clinton needs in both Texas and Ohio to stay viable. Still, an unmistakable knockout blow, for those non-number-crunching folk among us, would be nice.
Four days out from Zero Hour and as per the kitchen sink strategy, the Clinton campaign attempts a few more sad gambits to stay alive in the race…
Granted, I’m a partisan. But I really don’t see any of these working to Sen. Clinton’s advantage. In fact, they just make her and her campaign look that much more petty. (See also the newest playing of the gender card: “‘Every so often I just wish that it were a little more of an even playing field,’ she said, ‘but, you know, I play on whatever field is out there.’” Aw, it’s hard out here for the wife of a popular, two-term ex-president!) Update: In the meantime, Sen. Obama has picked up four more supers.
Update 2: Let’s see…what else does the Clinton campaign have under the kitchen sink? How ’bout some misleading mailers? (Gasp! Tough mailers? Shame on you, Hillary Clinton!) In any case, one claims “Barack Obama voted against protecting American families from predatory credit card interest rates of more than 30 percent.” As Obama said in a previous debate, he opposed the bill because “thought 30 percent potentially was too high of a ceiling. So we had had no hearings on that bill. It had not gone through the Banking Committee.” (Lest we forget, Sen. Clinton actually voted for the lender-friendly bankruptcy bill in 2001.) The other basically suggests Obama is a corporate stooge on the payroll of the energy companies. Left unsaid: Sen. Clinton has taken more donations from the energy industry.
So, since Thursday night’s seemingly valedictory moment, when it seemed Sen. Clinton might withdraw from the presidential contest with dignity intact, we’ve witnessed the ridiculous “shame on you” farce, her grotesquely unbecoming (and unpresidential) spate of unhinged sarcasm, further railing against Obama’s foreign policy (in part by comparing him to Dubya), some really desperate whining about the press coverage, and — arguably a new low — her staff’s apparent attempt to get the “closet Muslim” smear machine up and running again with the already-infamous Somali gear pic. (Here’s a quick summary of recent events.) Update: One of the more egregious spins of the day: Combining the biased-press and Somali-photo tacks, a Clinton aide is quoted as saying, ““Wouldn’t we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were [Clinton]?” Uh, no, because there’s obviously no whispering campaign arguing that Sen. Clinton is secretly Muslim. Really, what kind of idiots do you take us for?
It can only make you wonder what the next eight days will bring, and how much lower the Clinton campaign can possibly sink. I understand that they’re desperate now (See also Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro all but begging supers to back HRC), but they’ve really gone beyond the pale. At this point, I’m less outraged than I am just disgusted by Sen. Clinton, Mark Penn, and co. The self-immolation of the Clinton legacy is almost complete, and any goodwill they might’ve once enjoyed in progressive circles is well past exhausted. Let’s just hope the trail of slime they leave on their path to the exit doesn’t prove fertile ground for the Republicans in the general.
Update: Sen. Obama personally responds to the Somali pic flap: “Everybody knows that whether it’s me or Senator Clinton, or Bill Clinton, that when you travel to other countries they ask you to try on traditional garb that you have been given as a gift. The notion that the Clinton campaign would be trying to circulate this as a negative on the same day that Senator Clinton was giving a speech about how we repair our relationships around the world is sad. We are going to try to stay focused on what will make a difference in our foreign policy, including bringing the war in Iraq to an honorable end.” He then proceeded to twist the knife: “The notion that they would try to use this to imply in some way that I’m foreign, I think is, you know, unfortunate…These are the kinds of political tricks and silliness you start seeing at the end of campaigns.”
Update 2: The NYT surveys “what one Clinton aide called a ‘kitchen sink’ fusillade against Mr. Obama,” while the WP’s Dana Milbank reports on the efforts of the increasingly combative and bizarre Clinton spin room: “They are in the last throes, if you will…there was no mistaking a certain flailing, a lashing-out, as two Clinton advisers sat down for a bacon-and-eggs session yesterday at the St. Regis Hotel…[They offered] a fascinating tour of an alternate universe.”
“If the press were as prejudiced against Mrs. Clinton as her campaign constantly whines, debate moderators would have pushed for the Clinton tax returns and the full list of Clinton foundation donors to be made public with the same vigor it devoted to Mr. Obama’s ‘plagiarism.’ And it would have showered her with the same ridicule that Rudy Giuliani received in his endgame…But we gamely pay lip service to the illusion that she can erect one more firewall.“
The NYT‘s Frank Rich thoroughly eviscerates Senator Clinton’s “Dubya in Iraq”-style campaign. “Clinton fans don’t see their standard-bearer’s troubles this way. In their view, their highly substantive candidate was unfairly undone by a lightweight showboat who got a free ride from an often misogynist press and from naïve young people who lap up messianic language as if it were Jim Jones’s Kool-Aid…But it’s the Clinton strategists, not the Obama voters, who drank the Kool-Aid. The Obama campaign is not a vaporous cult; it’s a lean and mean political machine that gets the job done. The Clinton camp has been the slacker in this race, more words than action, and its candidate’s message, for all its purported high-mindedness, was and is self-immolating.“
Making a similar case about the aura of unreality surrounding Clinton, Newsweek‘s Jonathan Alter says it’s time for the Senator to concede. “The conventional view is that the Clintons approach power the way hard-core gun owners approach a weapon — they’ll give it up only when it’s wrenched from their cold, dead fingers. When I floated this idea of her quitting, Hillary aides scoffed that it would never happen. Their Pollyanna-ish assessment of the race offered a glimpse inside the bunker. These are the same loyalists who told Hillary that she was inevitable, that experience was a winning theme, that going negative in a nice state like Iowa would work, that all Super Tuesday caucus states could be written off. The Hillary who swallowed all that will never withdraw…[Yet t]he choice before her is to go down ugly with a serious risk of humiliation at the polls, or to go down classy, with a real chance of redemption. Why not the latter?“
“Enough with the speeches and the big rallies, and then using tactics right out of Karl Rove’s playbook. This is wrong, and every Democrat should be outraged…So shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public. That’s what I expect from you. Meet me in Ohio. Let’s have a debate about your tactics.” What was that about feeling “absolutely honored” the other night? No doubt in an attempt to stem all the final days talk, Sen. Clinton goes ballistic on Barack Obama this afternoon, claiming he’s the one that has used Rovian tactics this primary cycle. (Watch the video for the full “Dean Scream” effect. I wonder what Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, fidgeting behind her, was thinking.) Sen. Obama responds here and here, and the Obama campaign’s official rebuttal is here.
Ok, I’m going to try to put this as delicately as I can: Sen. Clinton, shame the fuck on you. After all the low-down, reprehensible, and thoroughly scummy maneuvers we’ve seen from your campaign this primary cycle, no doubt courtesy of your $10 million bust Mark Penn, how dare you get before the public and act the aggrieved party here? I’ve compiled this list before, but let’s go over it again. In the past three months, Sen. Clinton and/or her campaign has:
And I’m sure I’ve missed a few things. So who’s “using tactics right out of Karl Rove’s playbook” again? Don’t you worry, Sen. Clinton, “every Democrat should be outraged, and they are: That’s arguably one of the main reasons you’ve lost eleven contests in a row. It seemed the Clinton campaign had seen the situation for what it was, and was content to fade away, with grace and dignity intact. Had they done so, I might’ve let bygones be bygones. But, once they start indulging in this sort of Hail Mary raging against the dying of the light, which will no doubt poison the well for an easy reconciliation once Clinton has conceded, all bets are off. Update: This well-made video helps put today’s rant in perspective, and with Pink Floyd to boot.
Update 2: She’s getting worse.
Update 3: A few hours before the final Ohio debate, Sen Clinton concedes she “got a little hot over the weekend in Cincinnati.” Presumably, this means that the campaign’s internal polling suggests it backfired massively.
It’s sad to have to put aside the Valentine’s Day cheer so soon after midnight, but there’s no other way to put it: The Clinton campaign have lost their damn fool minds. At first, all seemed well. In an article by NYT‘s Adam Nagourney, Clinton officials reiterated what Howard Fineman reported last night: that the Clinton campaign basically admitted they wouldn’t match Sen. Obama’s pledged delegate total. “Mrs. Clinton’s advisers acknowledged that it would be difficult for her to catch up in the race for pledged delegates even if she succeeded in winning Ohio and Texas in three weeks and Pennsylvania in April. They said the Democratic Party’s rules, which award delegates relatively evenly among the candidates based on the proportion of the vote they receive, would require her to win by huge margins in those states to match Mr. Obama in delegates won through voting.” This is true, and it’s the crux of their dilemma. Their last hope lies in racking up massive and decisive wins in Ohio and Texas, which is highly unlikely but worth the old college try. But, here’s the warning sign: “With every delegate precious, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers also made it clear that they were prepared to take a number of potentially incendiary steps to build up Mrs. Clinton’s count.“
Sure enough, they have. According to the Boston Globe, forget Ohio and Texas: The Clinton campaign has said it will not concede the race, even if it is clear they’ve lost the delegate count on June 7 (Puerto Rico). “Clinton will not concede the race to Obama if he wins a greater number of pledged delegates by the end of the primary season, and will count on the 796 elected officials and party bigwigs to put her over the top, if necessary, said Clinton’s communications director, Howard Wolfson.” Never give up, never surrender! So, in effect, they’re saying they’ll risk an ugly and suicidal party schism, in the vain hope that the superdelegates don’t decide to renounce them en masse once they come in second, which they’re now basically admitting they will. And how are they going to convince the supers to back their play? Enter campaign strategist Mark Penn: “Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn’t won any of the significant states — outside of Illinois? That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama.“
So…sorry you had to hear it this way, but Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, the Virgin Islands, and Washington: you are not significant. Or at least according to the Clinton campaign. But please do vote Democratic in November.
As I said above, I never expected the Clinton campaign to make any drastic decisions until after March 4. I mean, I know they themselves aren’t big on the audacity of hope, but you never know: They might well be able to pull out the huge margins they need in both Ohio and Texas to stay mathematically viable. Stranger things have happened, some in this very election, and after the New Hampshire comeback, I’m not going to count them out until those returns come in. But, right now, they’re flat-out embarrassing themselves. [Globe and MSNBC links via TPM.]
Update: The Prospect‘s Ezra Klein is not happy: “If Hillary Clinton does not win delegates out of a majority of contested primaries and caucuses, her aides are willing to rip the party apart to secure the nomination, to cheat in a way that will rend the Democratic coalition and probably destroy Clinton’s chances in the general election…This demonstrates not only a gross ruthlessness on the part of Clinton’s campaign, but an astonishingly cavalier attitude towards the preservation of the progressive coalition. To be willing to blithely rip it to shreds in order to wrest a nomination that’s not been fairly earned is not only low, but a demonstration of deeply pernicious priorities.“
It’s Super Tuesday. Do you know where your voting station is?
More: Rafael Anchia | Joan Baez | Xavier Becerra | Bill Bradley | Michael Chabon| George Clooney | Kent Conrad | Clive Crook | Larry David | Rosa DeLauro | Robert De Niro | Todd Gitlin | The Grateful Dead | Kevin Drum | Maria Elena Durazo | Susan Eisenhower | Charlie Gonzalez | Tom Hayden | Christopher Hayes | Hendrik Hertzberg | Hulk Hogan | Robert Kagan | Gary Kamiya | Garrison Keilor | Caroline Kennedy | Ethel Kennedy | Ted Kennedy | John Kerry | Stephen King | Harry Knowles | George Lakoff | Patrick Leahy | Dave Matthews | Claire McCaskill | Kate Michelman | Liam Moore | Toni Morrison | Janet Napolitano | Ben Nelson | Move On | Alma Rangel | Frank Rich | Linda Sanchez | Kathleen Sebelius | Maria Shriver | Ted Sorenson | Stella | Andrew Sullivan | Cass Sunstein | Paul Volcker | Oprah Winfrey
Looking for more reasons (other than those in the GitM endorsement) to vote against Clinton? How about: trying to cheat in Florida and Michigan | “choose your own scandal” | corporate donors | dabbling in drug hysteria | dabbling in fear-mongering | dabbling in Reagan hysteria | dismissive of campaign finance reform | dubious claims to superior experience | the dynasty issue | false abortion mailer | “false hope”-mongering | false tax mailer | the gender card | “imaginary hip black friend” | kindergarten oppo research | lying about Obama’s Iraq stance | playing the race card | Rovian tactics | shady donors | union-busting rhetoric | voter suppression in NV | Wild Bill
“I am a gutter-ball bowler.” — Sen. Hillary Clinton, observed while (not) campaigning in Florida last Sunday. Hey, Sen. Clinton, you said it. The WP‘s Dana Milbank puts her comment in context: “The remark…was no doubt meant literally; she was standing outside Lucky Strike Lanes in Miami Beach. But in politics, too, Clinton has recently been putting some questionable rotation on the ball.” (As partial evidence, Milbank points to Clinton’s “ersatz victory party” in Florida last night, which he deems “a political stunt worthy of the late Evel Knievel.”)
“Courting voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, last August Sen. Hillary Clinton signed a pledge not to ‘campaign or participate’ in the Michigan or Florida Democratic primaries. She participated in both primaries and is campaigning in Florida. Which proves, again, that Hillary Clinton is a liar.” Back in New Hampshire, the Manchester Union-Leader isn’t too happy about Clinton’s breaking of her Florida pledge. “Clinton coldly and knowingly lied to New Hampshire and Iowa. Her promise was not a vague statement. It was a signed pledge with a clear and unequivocal meaning…New Hampshire voters, you were played for suckers.“
“Her arrival is Sarasota was timed so that she could be photographed with palm trees behind her. ‘It is a perfect day here in Florida,’ declared a bemused candidate who officially was not campaigning in Florida as she posed for the classic Florida campaign photo.” According to The Nation‘s John Norris, Hillary Clinton has broken the spirit of her pledge and is now actively campaigning in Florida. (“She arrived in Sarasota taking care to abide by the details of the agreement, because events in Sarasota and later in Miami were not open to the public. With a wink at the deal, Clinton carefully staged her arrival so she left her airplane with palm trees in the background for photographers.”) As Matt Yglesias put it, once again the Clintons — like the GOP — have shown they think elections in America are just a no-holds-barred game of Calvinball.
“Clinton, who arrived in the U.S. Senate four years before Obama, has tried to make experience the issue…But if she wants to highlight her White House experience as a defining difference, then it’s only fair to point out that two of the projects she was most deeply involved with produced a debacle (health care) and scandals (fund raising). Especially in recent days, her campaign has shown the sharp elbows that evoke the ugly underside of the Clinton years, and the (Karl Rove inspired) Bush years that succeeded them: the reflex to scorch the Earth, to do what is necessary to vanquish political adversaries … all is justified if you are left standing at the end.
The San Francisco Chronicle endorses Barack Obama for president. “America deserves better than these cycles of vengeance and retribution. Its possibilities are too great, its challenges too daunting, for partisan pettiness.”
“It’s not so much that women aren’t ready for a woman president. We are. But there’s something about last week’s spectacle of Bill Clinton crashing through South Carolina like the guy poised to drag her back to his cave by the hair that reminds us that Hillary has some stuff to work out in her marriage before she works it out with the rest of us.” Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick ponders what feminists should make of President Clinton’s newly increased role in his wife’s campaign. “It hasn’t helped that this Clinton campaign has also reinvented itself almost weekly since January: We’ve had Falling to Pieces Week; Finding Our Voice Week; Unloading a Carton of Whupass Week; and then Heh, Heh, That Bill Is a Maniac Week. Is it just me, or is it true that when it comes to issues of character, you don’t necessarily want a candidate who seems to be testing out new ones for each new crisis?“
And, also in light of Bill Clinton’s hogging of the spotlight — and Dick Cheney — historian Garry Wills surveys the serious problems involved in a co-presidency. “We have seen in this campaign how former President Clinton rushes to the defense of presidential candidate Clinton. Will that pattern of protection be continued into the new presidency, with not only his defending her but also her defending whatever he might do in his energetic way while she’s in office? It seems likely. And at a time when we should be trying to return to the single-executive system the Constitution prescribes, it does not seem to be a good idea to put another co-president in the White House.“
Another column update, as per yesterday:
TNR’s Jonathan Chait examines the “vast left-wing conspiracy” emerging against the Clintons. “Something strange happened the other day. All these different people — friends, co-workers, relatives, people on a liberal e-mail list I read — kept saying the same thing: They’ve suddenly developed a disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think we’ve reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons…Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational.“
The American Prospect‘s Paul Waldman agrees with the assessment that the Clintons are running a thoroughly Rovian primary campaign: “Three weeks ago, I wrote that Clinton was working to make voters uneasy, utilizing just enough fear to encourage them to stick with the known quantity in the race. But in the time since, her campaign has begun to appear more and more as though it’s being run by Karl Rove or Lee Atwater. Pick your tired metaphor — take-no-prisoners, brass knuckles, no-holds-barred, playing for keeps — however you describe it, the Clinton campaign is not only not going easy on Obama, they’re doing so in awfully familiar ways. So many of the ingredients of a typical GOP campaign are there, in addition to fear. We have the efforts to make it harder for the opponent’s voters to get to the polls (the Nevada lawsuit seeking to shut down at-large caucus sites in Las Vegas, to which the Clinton campaign gave its tacit support). We have, depending on how you interpret the events of the last couple of weeks, the exploitation of racial divisions and suspicions (including multiple Clinton surrogates criticizing Obama for his admitted teenage drug use). And most of all, we have an utterly shameless dishonesty.”“
Vanity Fair‘s Bruce Feirstein has had just about enough of Bill Clinton: “Clinton’s response offered an unusual lens into the powder-keg that is our former commander-in-chief: Starting with an almost jocular dismissal of the accusation, he then proceeded to wind himself up into a finger-pointing fury, attacking Barack Obama, painting himself as the victim, and generally blaming the press for everything, before walking away with the taunt, ‘Shame on you.’ It was not, well, presidential.“